March 20, 1998
KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees March 20 tabled until its next meeting a recommended 5 percent increase in room and board and apartment rental rates for 1998-99 to allow time for public comment.
This is the first increase in three years that applies the same change in rates to all students. Rates were frozen for all students in 1995-96 and for returning students in 1996-97. Last year rates were set for returning students at the previous year's levels.
"Even with the proposed increase, our residence hall rates remain competitive and continue to represent real value for our students," said Robert M. Beam, vice president for business and finance.
"Including these proposed rates, the average annual increase over the past seven years has been just 3.2 percent or very close to the rate of inflation," he said. "When adjusted for inflation, the actual cost for room and board at WMU has increased by just $200 over the past 20 years."
This year's increase will allow the University to absorb expected increases in operating costs, compensation, utilities, food and maintenance. If approved at the board's April 24 meeting, the rates would become effective with the start of the fall semester.
During the past three years, the University absorbed operating cost increases without sacrificing service to residents, Beam said. The rate freeze was part of efforts to increase occupancy in the residence halls.
Other steps were the introduction of new programs and options, including a 10-meal plan that provides the greatest savings and has become the most popular, he said. The University also mounted aggressive marketing efforts for the residence halls.
"While we do not count out the possibility that the freeze in rates did influence some students to return to the residence halls, it cannot be substantiated as any major influence," Beam explained.
"From the information we have from 12 of our sister institutions, our recommended 5 percent increase would rank fifth," he continued. "However, about half of the four-year public institutions are still discussing room and board so we can't determine our final ranking at this time."
Residence hall occupancy has increased by about 435 students in the past three years, with occupancy at the beginning of the fall semester at 5,690 students. Some of the increases stemmed from larger freshman classes as well as from an increase in returning students.
The halls operated at 95 percent of capacity during the fall semester and at 91 percent during the current winter semester. Of all residents, 83 percent are freshmen and sophomores.
WMU operates 22 residence halls, six full-service dining facilities, four cash-dining facilities and 585 on-campus apartments for student families, single graduate students and non-traditional students. The University's three apartment complexes operate at 95 percent to 99 percent of capacity.
Here are the proposed 1998-99 room and board rates with last year's rates in parentheses: room -- academic year (fall and winter), $1,906 ($1,815); spring, $442 ($447); summer, $459 ($423); single room per day, $6.50 ($5.50); board (20 meals per week) -- academic year, $2,685 ($2,583); spring, $666 ($652); board (15 meals per week) -- academic year, $2,610, ($2,527); summer (14 meals per week), $562 ($565); board (10 meals per week) -- academic year, $2,194 ($2,055); spring, $552 ($522); summer, $552 ($489).
Rates include a deferred maintenance fee of $25 per semester (fall and winter) and $12.50 per session (spring and summer) as well as a program development fee of $6 per semester and $3 per session. Those fees are unchanged.
Here are the proposed 1998-99 monthly apartment rental rates with last year's rates in parentheses: Goldsworth Valley -- one-bedroom furnished, $433 ($412); two-bedroom furnished, $491 ($468); one-bedroom unfurnished, $395 ($376); two-bedroom unfurnished, $448 ($427); Stadium Drive -- one-bedroom furnished, $443 ($422); two-bedroom furnished, $524 ($499); one-bedroom unfurnished, $411 ($391); two-bedroom unfurnished, $476 ($453); Elmwood -- one-bedroom furnished, $494 ($470); two-bedroom furnished, $643 ($612); one-bedroom unfurnished, $459 ($437); two-bedroom unfurnished, $562 ($535).
Rates include a $6 per month deferred maintenance fee, which is not changed.
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